Our family has lived in South Africa for almost eight years. For our boys, that means they have spent the majority of their lives living here. South Africa is home. For me, I love living here. Right now it is winter and I should be freezing, but I’m not. Winter 2013 has been mild, sunny and absolutely gorgeous. I love the sunshine and the warming spirit of my African friends. I confess I am comfortable and at peace in my adopted home of South Africa.
As many of you know, our family was asked to consider relocating to a neighboring country to begin a new ministry endeavor last year. Since my recent diagnosis and treatment for cancer, we’ve put that move on hold for an indefinite time period. In all honesty, John and I wonder if the Lord has other plans altogether for our family; perhaps to remain in South Africa for awhile longer or ????? We don’t know.
What do we know?
We want to be willing to go where our God wants us to go.
We want to be willing to stay where our God wants us to stay.
If at some point, the LORD said it was time to do something different, we would want Him to find our family ready. In all honesty, I don’t want my God to find me fearful or hesitant about following His command.
In my trust word study reading today, the Israelite nation were about to take hold of the Promised Land of their God, but instead of marching forward in confidence, the people faltered. They balked. Once again, they grumbled and complained. The people questioned if the land before them was really the promise land at all. Can you imagine? On the eve of victory, on the cusp of realization, at the very moment when they could lay claim to the land of their dreams, this people turned back in fear.
Here are the words of Moses as He condemned them for their rebellion and disobedience against their God:
But you were unwilling to go up; you rebelled against the command of the Lord your God. You grumbled in your tents and said, “The Lord hates us; so he brought us out of Egypt to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us. Where can we go? Our brothers have made our hearts melt in fear. They say, ‘The people are stronger and taller than we are; the cities are large, with walls up to the sky. We even saw the Anakites there.’”
Then I said to you, “Do not be terrified; do not be afraid of them. The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, and in the wilderness. There you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place.”
In spite of this, you did not trust in the Lord your God, who went ahead of you on your journey, in fire by night and in a cloud by day, to search out places for you to camp and to show you the way you should go. Deuteronomy 1: 26-33 NIV
It is easy for me to judge these people for their mistrust. Yet, I must acknowledge that if something was presented to me today whether a new ministry opportunity, a new home, a new venture, a new offer, a new direction or even a new health condition, would I balk, grumble and complain, or be fearful of what the LORD presented to me?
Would I forget the faithfulness and care of my God in the past and doubt his faithfulness and care for my future?
For the Israelites, their God had been their protector and their salvation.
Their God had carried them every step of their difficult journey.
Their God had positioned Himself far ahead of them; guiding their journey and providing for their needs along the way.
Their God had served as their beacon of light by night.
Their God had covered them with cloud protection by day.
Their God had displayed His might and His power before their incredulous eyes.
Their God had performed the miraculous for them and proven Himself to be LORD of all.
The Israelites needed only take a few more steps to reach the land of promise.
And they could not do it.
Their fear, mistrust and desire to be in control of their fate overpowered their faith.
I believe that we are presented with opportunities, ventures, and choices from God more often than we even realize.
All we have to do is take one more step.
All we have to do is relinquish our control.
All we have to do is let go of what we know.
All we have to do is be obedient.
All we have to do is look and listen for our God.
All we have to do is say, “Yes, LORD.”
What prevents us from taking a step forward to something different, perhaps something radically different with our God?
Instead of looking and listening and trusting in our God, we look at the various obstacles in our path. Or we listen to the people who would label us as out of our mind. Or we doubt that the LORD would really want us to give up this, that or any other creature comfort to take a step with God towards His purpose and His plan….when we don’t see beyond the obstacles or the hurdles. We don’t see enough of the promise. We fail to see enough of our God.
That’s what I think happened to the Israelites in the desert. They gave up just at the peak of their promise.
Yesterday, I received news that I am cancer-free once again. I am incredibly grateful for the mercy bestowed upon me by my God. He carried me through the uncertainty of whether some indeterminate tissue signaled a return of cancer. The biopsy results were benign.
As I look at things, if my God offered something new…even if I could not see everything all laid out ahead…it would be time to follow Him. My God has given me more life and more freedom to live. He has carried me in the past. He is carrying me in the present. He will carry me in the future.
I don’t need to be afraid.
I just need to take a step and say, “Yes, Lord.”